The true sago palm has been described as humankind's oldest food
plant. The starch from the trunk (bole) has long been a staple food
in the hot humid tropics of South-East Asia and Oceana as a
Sago palm contains some 150-250 kg of starch in its trunk. The
productivity per ha is several times that of paddy rice but takes 8
years to achieve this.
Its use as a fresh food will decline continuously. The largest
market for the crop is Japan, which each year already imports some
20000 t of starch.In Indonesia ,all the starch the country produces
will be used for domestic consumption. The starch is presently sold
on the local market as food. Traditionally, the starch is used for
the production of noodles. The production in Irian, is mainly sold
as an extender in the production of adhesives for the local plywood
industry. Sago starch is used as an ingredient in the production of
white bread. sago starch can be used to make up to 40% of the
content of white bread.
Sago palm is indigenous to the South Pacific region where it occurs
as a fresh water swamp tree. Large hectareage of sago exists in
Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Sabah
Sago palm produces tillers or suckers. The original palm dies after
producing a huge terminal inflorescence with formation of fruits and
then one or more of the suckers takes over.
A sago palm trunk contains starch. The starch can be extracted. A
mature sago palm often attains an overall height of some 10 _ 15 m.
The trunk can weight well over one tonne with a diameter of 40-50 cm
without leaf sheaths 10-12 years after planting.
A healthy sago palm has a crown of 12 to 18 fronds. The fronds are
arranged in spiral ascending manner. The rate of leaf formation is
one per month.
The palm possesses complete and male flowers and only flowers once,
at the final stage of life, forming an enormous terminal
The flowering period lasts about two months and the time taken from
development of the inflorescence to the formation of ripe fruits is
about two years. Sago palms are cross-pollinated .
Sago palm grew well in various soil either with a high water table.
The trunk is harvested for starch extraction. Sago flour is a
valuable source of carbohydrates and widely used by the local food
industries. It is also used in the manufacturing of monosodium
glutamate high fructose syrup, Glucose, maltose, dextrose and
In decaying trunks, grubs, especially Rhynchophorus spp., may grow.
These are considered a delicacy by all sago growers. The grubs are
eaten fresh or roasted.
The young shoots of 4-5 years old sago palm produce shoots or palm
heart or cabbage that can be eaten as food. The roots are used for
medicinal purpose for the relieve of fever and headaches. Ripe fruit
is edible with a sourly bitter taste. It can also be used as
medicinal purpose to decrease high blood pressure.